Midseason Thoughts: Matt Zemek

Posted Oct 9, 2012

Tuesday Question: Midseason Picks, Thoughts and Calls

Tuesday Question: Midseason Thoughts
Richard Cirminiello | Matt Zemek | Phil Harrison | Terry Johnson | Bart Doan

By Matt Zemek

Player of the Year – Barrett Jones, Alabama. Is there anyone else in the country who commands his position as fully as Jones does at center? Geno Smith committed a few turnovers against Texas. Jones makes fewer mistakes at center. Jadeveon Clowney didn't start overwhelming Georgia until South Carolina gained a multi-possession lead against the Bulldogs.

Player of the Year Other Than Geno Smith – Make that "other than Barrett Jones. It's Clowney, with an assist from Devin Taylor.

Surprise Team So Far – Notre Dame. I didn't expect this defense to be so overwhelmingly good that a string of average offensive performances from the Fighting Irish wouldn't matter. Notre Dame is headed for a BCS bowl, and that did not seem very likely at the beginning of the season, given the schedule. Sure, the Big Ten is awful, but Notre Dame made mincemeat of three Big Ten foes. Give the Irish their due.

Disappointing Team So Far – USC. Lane Kiffin failing to deliver the goods as a head coach? Shocking.

Coach of the Year – Bill Snyder. The man works wonders, even now.

I Was Dead Wrong About … Florida. I was wrong about Florida in much the same way that I was wrong about Notre Dame. The Gators' defense has been lights-out in every second half of every game this season, but the offense hasn't imploded, and that's the true curveball that buckled my intellectual knees.

I Was Right On About … Oregon. This is the class of the Pac-12 until proven otherwise. Hype machines reside in the media market of Los Angeles. Excellence resides in Eugene. Chip Kelly can coach the rest of the league out of its shoes… at least until Rich Rodriguez, Mike Leach, and the University of Washington all assemble seasoned talent while also building quality depth. (Side note: Being right about South Florida doesn't really count as any mark of wisdom.)

Favorite Moment – The Clemson-Florida State game was the best game of the first half of the season. It was big-boy football with action, excitement, plot twists, and – most of all – the sense that the winner won as opposed to the loser giving the game away. Let's have more games like that in the second half of the season.

My Three Big Calls For The Second Half Of The Season – 1) Florida will win the SEC East after beating South Carolina. 2) Kansas State will hold off all comers for the Big 12 championship. 3) North Carolina will finish in first place in the ACC Coastal; Miami will represent the Coastal as the official (eligible) winner… and face Clemson when Florida State loses at Virginia Tech.

Overall Grade For The First Half – D-plus. The football has been really bad, and not just in the Big Ten. The SEC's middle and lower tiers have been hard to watch. The Pac-12 has only one team that looks really good (Oregon). The ACC Coastal is a theater of slapstick comedy… and that's being generous. Boise State has struggled. The service academies have disappointed. "MACTION" has not been "MACTION" this season, except for that one weekend with four wins against Big Ten foes. BYU games have made viewers want to gouge their eyes out. Notre Dame's contests have been snoozefests. Conference USA has been dreadful with the exceptions of UCF and Tulsa. Only the Big East has exceeded expectations as a conference, and Louisiana Tech has offered a splash of overachievement as well. Many more teams need to pick up the pace in the coming weeks.